Students attend LGBTA conference: Connect, educate and discover ‘their voices’
BY MEREDITH WATHNE
Twenty-four students and one adviser traveled to Kansas City, Mo. Feb. 7 – 9 for the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC).
Since 1993, the MBLGTACC has been providing educational workshops, inspiring keynotes and a safe environment for the LGBT community and allies to come together. The conference has since become the largest LGBTA conference in the nation with more than 1,500 attendees.
Those attending had the option to choose from more than 90 different workshops and speakers. Though professionals lead some of the workshops, many are led by students from both guest and host schools.
“I attended the slam poetry session and the gay forum discussion group,” said Todd Richter, vice president of the Gay-Straight Alliance. “My experience allowed me to make new friends and discover who I am.”
Other workshops offered discussions on accepting bisexuals and pansexuals and perspectives from polyamorous relationships.
“One session I went to was for bisexuals and middle identities,” said Molly Christenson, English literature and women and gender studies junior. “I wanted to go too because it’s something that doesn’t get talked about that much. It’s easy to see gay, straight and ally, but a lot of times bisexuals and pansexuals get forgotten.”
The conference was a great learning experience for those MSUM students who attended. One of the highlights for Christenson was a creative writing session. Like a diary, creative writing gives those who have been stifled a chance to make their voice heard. She plans to start something similar on MSUM’s campus in the near future.
“It gives people a chance to find a voice in a different way,” she said.
Richter also brought back valuable insight to apply to campus.
“I learned a lot about the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer/Questioning Intersex Ally (LGBTQIA) community as well as how to make our Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) a more fully inclusive space, and create a stronger presence on campus,” he said.
All the students took away valuable insights to bring back to campus and are excited to apply them to MSUM.
“I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot about myself,” said Laura Peterson, art and women and gender studies sophomore. “I have a lot of new info I can bring into my relationship.”
Overall the experience affirmed faith and inspiration in the American people and the country as a whole.
“I know not everyone supports gender and marriage equality,” Richter said. “I believe love is love. I will support all of you no matter who you choose to marry. Marriage is a beautiful thing. We may not be interested in the same people, but we are all human beings who deserve to find the best possible partner in life.”